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Risks associated with shutting off foreign trade are far too high

To The Daily Sun,

A little history is required in order to understand the relationship that now exists between Mexico and the U.S. As far as that goes, the same holds true for most of the countries we relate to as a nation. For the purpose of discussing Mexico relations, I'll begin in 1942. That was the year that the Bracero Program began. It was created by an executive order issued by President Roosevelt. It established a bi-lateral agreement creating short-term labor contracts involving Mexican workers. Its official title was the Mexican Farm Labor Program. It lasted until 1951. At that point Congress formalized it into Public Law 78 and continued to call it the Bracero Program. In the law, safeguards for the workers were provided. Unfortunately, because of lax enforcement, many growers ignored the provisions and mistreated the workers.

During the Eisenhower administration pressure was brought to bear by American worker unions in reference to the use of illegal Mexican labor. In response, a move to repatriate illegals brought in by growers was instituted. The administration began what they called Operation Wetback in 1954. In the first year over a million Mexican laborers were repatriated to Mexico. Over the next few years, an additional two million were sent back. Additionally, PL-78 was altered to provide more protection for American farm workers. The changes were signed by JFK in early 1961. That measure effectively killed the Bracero Program. It was officially ended in 1964. The Smithsonian Museum of American History documented this period with an exhibit entitled "Bitter Harvest, The Bracero Program, 1942-1964."

During the Johnson years a program was developed that focused on cross-border cooperation. It used Mexican workers on the Mexico side of the border to assemble material. It was titled "Maquiladora." It allowed for a duty-free zone. Once the factories were completed and machinery was on site the process began. Material produced in pieces in the US were shipped across the border for assembly and then returned to the US and its marketplaces. A future development in that vein was NAFTA.

In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed. Since then it has been the subject of heated discussion both pro and con. A lot of the con arguments are aimed at the perception that cheap Mexican labor was robbing us of our manufacturing jobs. For a while, Pat Buchanan, occasional candidate for president, was the leading critic of NAFTA. His main arguing point was that U.S. companies, given a choice between enhancing profits or preserving jobs in the U.S., would chose profits. The pro NAFTA argument was based on the memory of the great depression and its causes. Trade or the lack thereof, is global, not just between the NAFTA partners. Some recalled the reason for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Its function was, and is currently, to make short-term loans to countries with big trade deficits. Obviously, not all nations have played by the rules set up by the IMF.

Because of the threat of insolvency, some developing countries started devaluing their currency in response to the implied threats to their economy. That sort of behavior came to a head in 2007 when the lack of regulation on investment banks lead to the crisis that was barely avoided shortly after President Obama took office in 2008. And so, here we are eight years later with a president who wants to dismantle the controls and roll-back what many perceive was progress toward sanity.

In closing, a warning should be given to the Trump Administration. To expand or restrict trade is mainly a political choice. The U.S. can prevent trade by shutting itself off from other countries, but the risks far out-weigh the rewards. Even China, the lurking giant, understands that. And, one last point, our country's ability to create economic growth rests, mainly, with its people, their values and their resourcefulness. In the next few months, the new administration must remember to conduct the nations business for the benefit of all its citizens. Be careful, we are in a global economy.

Bill Dawson

Northfield

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Mrs. DeVos: Public education is the bedrock of American culture

To The Daily Sun,

My parents were raised in the Mid-West. They were staunchly Republican and Presbyterian. Both facts reflected their divided ethical/moral compass. In 1942, my father was relocated to New York, where I and my two sisters grew up.
I can't remember my father or mother ever having a bad word for anyone. But as with many father/son relationships, ours began to erode when I was about 12. His steely ideological stances, were, in my mind, at odds with the teaching of the church. If a Black, or a Jew, or a Catholic were in range, it was impossible not to notice the fear and distrust in their voices.
I received a public education in New York State during my formative years. Our school district had few Blacks, but I had the chance to mingle socially via the public-school system. I remember the friendship I struck up with Roy Thompson, a star running back on my football team. Roy went to college out West and was murdered in a race-related incident. Given the time in the 60's, and my youthful idealism, any doubts I had about the moral indignation of the "movement" faded like frost on a sunny day.
Everyone was scared that the communists were trying to implement their anemic system on the world — because they were. And in equal measure, the West reacted with a war that rages until today. But we have all had enough time to digest the acute problems that are rendered by the politics of fear.
There were numerous attempts at the beginning of the 1900's to fix the perceived ravages of the Industrial Revolution. It was correctly realized that money and power wins over morality — every time. Laws (read REGULATIONS) were passed to protect us from animal waste and other contaminants in our food. The Glass-Steagall Act protected our banking system from its own avarice until it was rescinded (largely by Al Gore's interventions!) in 1999. During the time between 1933 and 2008, hardly one bank was lost to corrupt investments. But, as a direct result of rescinding the Glass-Steagall law, raw greed and the invention of junk mortgage instruments resulted in the bank failures of 2008. Then, a diluted, toothless form of this law, the Dodd-Frank Bill, was passed. Now, with a new investment bubble looming in plain view, due to the same illicit financial activities, the Trump administration has seen fit to trash even this meager attempt at banking sanity. So much for "draining the swamp."
The EPA was formed in an attempt to roll back the hideous flow of industrial garbage into the Earth's rivers, air and land. For decades, measurable improvements were recorded. Now, that filth is destroying the Earth's ability to support the lives of higher order creatures — you and me, for example. Not true? Just let it fester another 50 years and try to explain that to your progeny ... C'mon, everyone, let's trash the EPA and ALL regulations ... don't reform it — it gets in the way of business...
Public education is the bed rock of American culture. Generations of established Americans have been given the opportunity to mingle with immigrants. Even today, this is largely how your sons and daughters introduce the American experience to future Americans. I would hate to see an education system that excludes this baton transfer. I'm speaking to you Ms. DeVos, proposed secretary of Unequal and For Profit Education.
Rex Tillerson, secretary of State, currently has a $500 billion oil and shale extraction deal with the Russians. Do you honestly believe that the recent Trump move to abolish all sanctions against Russia has nothing to do with this?
This list of "swamp drainers" goes on and on. If you believe as I do, your political aspirations must be an extension of your ethical and moral outlook. Being scared and/or confused about what is happening to you is no excuse to hide behind fascists who openly use lies and P.T. Barnum tactics to promise the world without a hint of substance. Look how these cowards, spurned by adults, have turned 180 degrees on their own proposals since the campaign. Smoke and mirrors and tweets are covered by the press - instead of watching the man behind the curtain. Fascists are good at this game.
Speaking of the free press, did you know that Walter Cronkite flew in numerous and dangerous B-52 raids over Germany? Just so your grandparents could know what was going on. Same with scores of "Name-Your-War" reporters who risk their lives and die so you can make informed decisions. Maybe it is time to take a hard look at how fascists treat the free press (several of them are currently facing 10-year prison terms for reporting on the inauguration riots) — ya think?
There are those of you who will seethe and lash out at these words. I wish I could help. For others, start taking actions to vote this abomination and their minions out of office. The sooner the better. The American democratic infrastructure is being eaten alive — and you adults know it.

Paul B. Utiger
Laconia

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